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10+ Rare Courtroom Sketches From Most Infamous Trials Where No Cameras Were Allowed

Published 2 years ago

As the courtrooms are being invaded by cameras, the US Library of Congress has decided to share their collection of 10,000 courtroom drawings, which for the last five decades gave the American public a glimpse at the most infamous trials in country’s history.

Illustrations exhibition is called “Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration” and is now at the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, DC, and it features 98 drawings sketched right in the courtrooms as the dramatic events unraveled.

“While artistic styles vary, each artist brings the theater of the courtroom to life, capturing gestures, appearance, and relationships in a way that humanizes defendants, plaintiffs, lawyers, judges, and witnesses,” Sara W. Duke, the exhibition’s organizer told Hyperallergic.

These series includes powerful moments like Charles Manson lunging at the judge or KKK clan member walking away with murder thanks to the all-white jury. It even features an illustration by Howard Brodie that dates back to the 1964 trial of Jack Ruby, who was found guilty of killing Lee Harvey Oswald while he was in custody for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

“Whether it is a once-beloved celebrity or a reviled terrorist — Americans want access to the legal system. By acquiring, preserving, and making courtroom art accessible to researchers and the public, the Library’s courtroom illustration collection preserves an enduring record of American life and law.”

Take a look at our picks below and if you have the chance visit the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, DC, or at least their online exhibition for the full list.

More info: Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration (h/t: hyperallergic)

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#1 Helter Skelter in the Courtroom

In the more than nine months that Charles Manson was on trial for the murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, he grew increasingly agitated. On October 5, 1970, he quickly leaped from the defense table, pencil in hand, preparing to stab Justice Charles H. Older. Bill Robles captured Manson’s frenzied energy, which seemingly required all the might of the burly bailiff to restrain him. The pencil, still in motion, flies through the air toward the judge. By all accounts, Older did not even flinch. Walter Cronkite led off CBS Evening News that night with Robles’s drawing.

By Bill Robles. Manson Leaping at Judge Charles H. Older! October 5, 1970. India ink and watercolor with scratching out on vellum paper mounted on board.

#2 Son of Sam Breaks Down in Courtroom

David Berkowitz had terrorized New York City for a year, killing and injuring young couples out late at night and sending letters from the “Son of Sam” to New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin before he was captured. Appearing in court on May 22, 1978, for sentencing, Berkowitz exploded in the courtroom, shouting, “I’ll kill them all,” as guards escorted him out. The judge delayed his sentencing until June 12, when he was much calmer. Rather than face a jury trial, Berkowitz pled guilty. Joseph Papin’s drawing, which captured the criminal’s anguished mental breakdown so vividly, appeared on the cover of the New York Daily News.

By Joseph Papin. [David Berkowitz screams obscenities as guards struggle to drag him from courtroom], May 22, 1978. Porous point pen, blue ink, and opaque white on gray paper.

#3 Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Eight members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War argued intended to demonstrate peacefully at the 1972 Republican National Convention but were lured into more violent behavior by government infiltrators. During the trial, two FBI agents were caught using electronic surveillance to listen to a private defense team conversation— perhaps helping the defense, as the veterans were acquitted on August 31, 1973. Aggie Whelan had been sent by CBS to cover the trial. During the pre-trial hearing, Federal Judge Winston Arnow told the court illustrators they were not permitted to draw in his courtroom or from memory. Whelan, though outside the courtroom, sketched anyway and the government found CBS guilty of violating its orders. On appeal, the decision United States of America v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 497 F.2d 102 (1974) reaffirmed the right of courtroom illustrators to work during trials.

By Aggie Whelan [Kenny]. Gainsville [sic] 8, 1973. Pastel and charcoal on blue-green paper laid paper.

#4 Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman in Court

Actor Paul Newman casually sits and reads next to his actress wife Joanne Woodward, who knits. His attorney, W. Patrick Ryan, protects his interests against Westport delicatessen owner Julius Gold, who sued the actor for breach of contract in the manufacture of Newman’s Own salad dressing. Gold argued that he had been promised a percentage of the profits, but that Newman had reneged on the deal. Newman claimed no promise had been made and gave all profits to charity. On June 23, 1988, Judge Howard F. Zoarski of Connecticut Superior Court in Bridgeport declared a mistrial when jurors inadvertently saw information not admitted into evidence. The judge denied the plaintiff, Julius Gold, the right to have his case retried.

By Marilyn Church. Salad Dressing War, June 1988. Colored pencil, water-soluble crayon, and porous point pen on ochre paper.

#5 Trial of Michael Jackson

In 2005, Michael Jackson faced trial in Santa Monica, California, on charges of molesting a teenager. He was found not guilty. After the trial Jackson said, “I haven’t been betrayed or deceived by children. Adults have let me down.” Artist Bill Robles found drawing at the trial a challenge—he endured the “Melville diet” named after Judge Rodney Melville who scheduled only three ten-minute breaks and no lunch. Robles had barely enough time to meet the network news truck to film his drawings before returning inside to draw again.

By Bill Robles. [Michael Jackson], June 15, 2005. Porous point pen and India ink on translucent paper.

#6 Death Penalty Argued Before the Supreme Court

Lawyer Anthony Amsterdam made a specialty of arguing death penalty cases before the Supreme Court, culminating in the 1972 case Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238. Amsterdam had worked through the NAACP’s Legal and Educational Defense Fund, building up a case that death penalty sentences, while rarely carried out, were handed down to disproportionate numbers of African Americans. Instead of focusing on the violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, Amsterdam castigated the flawed procedure of jury selection and instruction. Here in one of his earlier cases, Maxwell v. Bishop, 398 U.S. 262 (1970), Amsterdam demonstrated one of the problems with jury selection. In this case, the court found a death sentence cannot be carried out if the jury automatically excluded jurors who voiced general objections to the death penalty.

By Howard Brodie. Capital Punishment, Lawyer Anthony Amsterdam Arguing, May 4, 1970. Color crayon on white paper.

#7 Fear of a Defendant with AIDS in 1984

Edward Coaxum, wearing a surgical mask, sits while his lawyer, Frank Gould, stands before the jury. Accused of stabbing a man to death in an area of East Harlem where drug addicts gathered, Coaxum faced prejudice as a man stricken with AIDS in his 1984 trial. New York State Supreme Court Justice Arnold G. Fraiman permitted nervous jurors to be excused or wear protective clothing. At a time before there were effective treatments for AIDS, Coaxum died before his case could be heard on appeal.

By Marilyn Church. 1st AIDS Case, October 26, 1984. Colored pencil, water-soluble crayon, porous point pen, and graphite on olive Canson wove paper.

#8 Bernie Madoff in Handcuffs

Elizabeth Williams, an artist whose skills were honed by decades in the courtroom, showed her journalist’s sense in U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York in Manhattan. After Bernard Madoff had entered his plea, she lingered long enough to see him handcuffed and led away by officers. Madoff had taken more than $64 billion in assets from investors through his Ponzi scheme. Williams later said of the drawing. ” . . . I knew that was what everybody wanted to see. It wasn’t a great drawing or anything; it was more like a great moment.”

By Elizabeth Williams. Bernard Madoff, Going to Jail Post Plea, March 12, 2009. Pastel and watercolor on tan paper.

#9 Bobby Seale, Bound and Gagged

Bobby Seale had not participated in the advance planning for the demonstration, but was arrested and tried with the MOBE members. A co-founder of the Black Panthers, Seale had gone to Chicago as a last-minute replacement for Eldridge Cleaver. Seale, whose lawyer was unavailable due to hospitalization, was denied both a continuance and self-representation. Seale verbally lashed out, interrupting the proceedings. On October 29, 1969, in an extraordinary move, Judge Julius Hoffman ordered Bobby Seale bound and gagged. His trial was severed from the Chicago Eight on November 5, 1969. Finding him in contempt, Hoffman sentenced Seale to four years in prison, appealed at, U.S. v. Seale, 461 F.2d 345 (1972). As he was led from the courtroom, spectators shouted “Free Bobby!”

By Howard Brodie. [Bobby Seale attempting to write notes on a legal pad while bound and gagged in the courtroom during the Chicago Eight conspiracy trial in Chicago, Illinois], between October 29 and November 5, 1969. Color crayon and on white paper.

#10 Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald’s Assassin

Just days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended for the crime. As Oswald was being moved from the Dallas police station, Jack Ruby (Jacob Leon Rubenstein) shot him on live television. Howard Brodie, having worked for two decades as a newspaper illustrator, called an army buddy who was a CBS executive to offer his services in covering a trial that forbade filming. He became one of the first courtroom illustrators to work for television. This drawing of the empty courtroom depicts the names and positions of the defendant, defense attorneys, judge, district attorney, assistant district attorneys, bailiff, court reporter, jury, and even the spittoon.

By Howard Brodie. Diagrammatic view of courtroom used in the Ruby v. Texas trial in Dallas, Texas, 1964. Crayon on white paper.

#11 Satire Is Protected Free Speech

Publisher Larry Flynt provoked a lawsuit for damages for satirizing televangelist Jerry Falwell in a fake Campari ad in Hustler magazine. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed in Hustler v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988), that a parody, which no reasonable person expected to be true, was protected free speech. The justices also stated that upholding the lower courts’ decisions would put all political satire at risk. Alan Isaacman defended Flynt before eight justices, as Justice Anthony Kennedy recused himself. Flynt (in a wheelchair) is isolated due to an outburst during a previous Supreme Court appearance in another libel case.

By Aggie Kenny. Larry Flynt (Foreground) & Issacman [sic], 1988. Watercolor and graphite on tan paper.

#12 Abbie Hoffman’s Tug-Of-War with a Marshall

Abbie Hoffman was a founder of the Youth International Party, also known as the Yippies. He joined the National Mobilization Committee and helped organize the demonstration in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention in 1968. Full of theatrics during the course of the trial, he brought a Viet Cong flag into the courtroom on the day of the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, November 15, 1969, and proceeded to wrestle over it with deputy marshal Ronald Dobroski.

By Howard Brodie. NLF Flag Tug of War, Enemy Flag, 1969. Color crayon on white paper.

#13 Jilted Lover Jean Harris

On March 10, 1980, in Purchase, New York, police received a call that Dr. Herman Tarnhower, a renowned cardiologist and author of the celebrated The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet, had been shot. They arrived just as Jean Harris, headmistress of the exclusive Madeira School in Virginia, tried to drive away. On February 6, 1981, several days after her defense attorney, Joel Aurnou, had called her to the stand, she broke down under the cross-examination of prosecutor George Bolen. Rejecting her story that she had intended to commit suicide when she accidently shot her lover, the jury found her guilty of murder on February 24, 1981. She served twelve years at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, N.Y.

By Joseph Papin. Jean Harris Breaks Down on Stand, February 6, 1981. Porous point pen and colored pencil on gray paper.

#14 O. J. Simpson Faces His Civil Trial

Unlike his well-publicized criminal trial, which was broadcast on television, O.J. Simpson’s civil trial was a quieter affair. Bill Robles drew the former football star during the civil court case on a day in which several witnesses elaborated on his late ex-wife’s attempts to end his stalking. When Simpson was ordered to pay $33.5 million to the families of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, he claimed to be broke and so they received comparatively little.

Bill Robles. [O. J. Simpson during his 1996 civil trial], December 6, 1996. Watercolor and India ink on translucent paper.

#15 Al Sharpton Reacts to Bensonhurst Trial Verdict

Diane Hawkins, the mother of murder victim Yusuf Hawkins, Al Sharpton, and others react to the verdict that cleared Keith Mondello of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. After the verdict was announced on May 19, 1990, one member of the Hawkins family reportedly shouted, “You’ll get yours.” On the previous day, Joseph Fama was found guilty by a separate jury: judgement affirmed at People v. Fama, 212 A.D.2d 542 (1995). Al Sharpton threatened that, “We intend to move this city like it’s never been moved before” and led marches into Bensonhurst and other New York neighborhoods clamoring for racial justice.

By Marilyn Church. [Bensonhurst Murder Trial], May 1990. Colored pencil, charcoal, porous point pen, and water-soluble crayon on brown paper.

#16 All White Jury Frees Klan Members

Civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo was shot and killed on March 25, 1965, as she drove African American civil rights marcher Leroy Moton in her car from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama. Four Ku Klux Klan members, Eugene Thomas, William Eaton, Collie Leroy Wilkins, Jr., and Thomas Rowe, Jr., were arrested and tried. Artist Howard Brodie drew the all-white, all-male jury that served at one of the multiple trials. While Rowe, an FBI informant, received immunity for his testimony, Thomas, Eaton and Wilkins, were acquitted in state trials. On December 3, 1965, the three men received ten-year sentences on a federal charge of conspiracy to deprive Liuzzo of her civil rights. As a result of Liuzzo’s death, President Johnson petitioned Congress to increase the scope of the Federal Conspiracy Act of 1870 to include the death of civil rights workers. Her death also helped raise support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Pub. L. 89-110.

By Howard Brodie. Jury, Hayneville, Alabama, 1965. Crayon on white paper.

#17 Brutal Killing Spurs Hate Crime Legislation

Lieutenant Dennis Adler and Prosecutor Cal Rerucha stretch out the chain used in the murder of Matthew Shepard while defendant Russell Arthur Henderson, seated, watches in the Albany County District Court in Laramie, Wyoming. Henderson, along with Aaron James McKinney, lured Shepard to a field on October 6, 1998, savagely beat him, tied him to a fence, and left him for dead. He died of his wounds six days later. Along with the murder of James Byrd, Jr., by white supremacists around the same time, this crime led to passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, 18 U.S.C. §249.

By Pat Lopez. Mathew Shepherd [sic] Murder, 1999. Colored pencil on gray paper.

#18 Frozen Embryos as Personal Property

In 1978, as the first “test tube” baby was born in England, John and Doris Del Zio sued Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, and Dr. Raymond Vande Wiele for emotional damages in the case of Del Zio v. Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, U.S. Dist. Lexis 14550 (1978). Their lawyer Michael Dennis stands before Judge Charles Stewart, arguing that Vande Wiele, by exposing their fertilized embryos to the air in 1973, had destroyed their property and caused emotional distress. The doctors at Columbia Presbyterian encouraged the Del Zios to sue because they wanted to continue in vitro fertilization (IVF) research. While on August 18, 1978, the jury awarded small damages for the emotional distress, it found that the embryos were not the couple’s personal property.

By Marilyn Church. Test Tube Baby, 1978. Colored pencil, porous point pen, and water-soluble crayon on tan laid paper.

#19 Path to Law Suits against Cigarette Manufacturers

Donald J. Cohn of Webster & Sheffield, a cigarette manufacturer’s counsel, is shown speaking to the jury in Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 683 F.Supp. 1487 (1988), in U.S. District Court D in New Jersey. Presiding Judge H. Lee Sarokin agreed with the defendants that affixing to their product the Surgeon General’s warning that cigarette smoking is dangerous to one’s health fulfilled the minimum requirement for cigarette manufacturers and that the plaintiff’s lawyers could not argue based on the advertiser’s implications that lower nicotine content is safer. Rose Cipollone had died but her family argued it up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Cipollones lost their case, but the justices ruled during litigation that smokers might have other grounds to pursue claims against cigarette manufacturers under state laws.

By Marilyn Church. Cippolone [sic] Tobacco Trial, 1988. Water-soluble crayon, colored pencil, and porous point pen over graphite underdrawing on ochre Canson paper.

#20 Judge on Trial

In 1985, Judge William C. Brennan, who served on the New York State Supreme Court in Queens, was convicted on twenty-six counts of accepting bribes under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Shown here, Brennan and his attorney, Daniel P. Hollman, stand before Judge Jack B. Weinstein in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. Brennan appealed his case on the grounds that Weinstein had based his conviction on an unreliable witness, but the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the decision: U.S. v. Brennen, 798 F.2d.581 (1986) He served more than two years at Allenwood Federal Prison in Pennsylvania.

By Marilyn Church. Brooklyn Judge Brennan Hearing, October 11, 1985. Colored pencil, water-soluble crayon, and porous point pen over graphite underdrawing on olive paper.

#21 Man Who Is Deaf Seeks to Serve on a Jury

After threatening to sue for discrimination, Alec Naiman, shown seated in the jury pool, communicates with his signer while Judge Budd G. Goodman in the New York State Supreme Court asks him questions. Hector Guzman, on trial for a narcotics violation, sits next to his attorney, Oscar Finkel. During jury selection, Finkel argued his client would be denied a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment if one of the jurors were deaf. Judge Goodman, sympathetic to Naiman’s cause, denied Guzman the right to eliminate him from the jury pool for cause: People v. Guzman, 478 NYS 2d 455 (1984). Finkel then used one of his peremptory challenges to exclude Naiman. With the passage in 1990 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Pub.L.101-336, deaf citizens obtained the right to serve on juries.

By Marilyn Church. Deaf Juror, February 17, 1984. Colored pencil, pastel, graphite, and porous point pen on ochre paper.

#22 The Citadel

Shannon Richey Faulkner had won coveted admission to the Citadel in 1993, but after the elite all-male military college discovered she was female, it withdrew her acceptance. She fought in court for two years, eventually winning the right to be admitted as a day student, until the appeals process was completed: Faulkner v. Jones, 585 F.Supp. 552 (1994). In 1994, Pat Lopez drew her sitting next to one of her lawyers, Robert Black, as well as an unidentified lawyer. Judge C. Weston Houck presided over the U.S. District Court in Charleston, South Carolina. In August 1995, Faulkner was admitted as a cadet but quit after just one week as a result of harassment. Nevertheless, other women have pursued admission and today comprise eight percent of the cadets.

By Pat Lopez. Citadel Fed Court Charleston, S.C., August 16, 1994. Colored pencil over graphite underdrawing on lavender paper.

#23 Black Panthers on Trial

In 1970, twenty-one members of the New York Black Panther Party faced charges of conspiracy to bomb several sites in New York City. Their lawyers found it difficult to prepare for their trial before the New York Supreme Court because the defendants were purposefully separated and placed into solitary confinement in seven different jails. Their lead lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, sued to have them brought together in Queens and ultimately thirteen defendants faced trial together. Justice John M. Murtagh, having knowledge of the Chicago Seven trial, intended to avoid Judge Hoffman’s handling of that politically charged courtroom. The jury ultimately acquitted the Panthers of all 156 charges on May 12, 1971.

By Howard Brodie. N.Y. Panther Trial, 1970. Color crayon on white paper.

#24 Racist Tattoos Cover James Byrd, Jr.’s, Murderer

During the trial of John William King, tattoo artist Johnny Mosley testified about the racist imagery with which King had covered his body while in prison on burglary charges. King had also joined the Confederate Knights of America, a Klan-based group. Out of prison, he recruited Shawn Allen Berry and Lawrence Russell Brewer to what he hoped would be the Jasper, Texas, chapter of the group. The victim, James Byrd, Jr., had been hitchhiking home from a party on June 7, 1998, when Berry, Brewer, and King kidnapped him. After beating him, they chained him to the back of their truck and dragged him to his death. Selecting its only African American juror to serve as foreman, the jury returned a guilty verdict of capital murder.

By Pat Lopez. James Bird [sic] Murder Trial, January 1999. Colored pencil on gray paper.

#25 Only One Officer Found Guilty of My Lai Atrocities

Lt. William L. Calley, Jr., flanked by George W. Latimer, his civilian lawyer and an unidentified officer, saluted the president of the six-officer jury. He had just received his sentence to a lifetime of hard labor for his role in the murder of twenty-two My Lai villagers in Vietnam on March 16, 1968: appeal at U.S. v. Calley, 46 C.M.R. 1131. Ultimately President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence to house arrest at Fort Benning. Calley was released to a federal parole officer on September 10, 1975. Of the fifteen officers who were charged, only Calley was found guilty of the massacre.

By Howard Brodie. [Lieutenant William L. Calley, Jr., saluting the president of the six-officer jury after the verdict was announced in his court martial trial at Ft. Benning, Georgia], March 31, 1971. Color crayon on white paper.

#26 Humanizing the Demonized

After his extradition from England, Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, faced trial for multiple counts of terrorism, including the taking of hostages and providing material support and resources to terrorists: motion to dismiss charges denied, U.S. v. Mostafa, 965 F.Supp. 2d 451 (2013). The charges included an episode that led to the deaths of two Americans in Yemen, as well as the use of his role as imam at the Finsbury Park Mosque in London to incite acts of terrorism and racial hatred. Elizabeth Williams, while deftly capturing the Egyptian-born leader’s mannerisms, prosthetic arms, and stiff relationship with Mayerlin Ulerio, a paralegal on his defense team, portrays a human face on a demonized figure. Mustafa is now serving a life sentence at the federal prison in Florence, Colorado.

By Elizabeth Williams. Abu Hamza Trial, Manhattan Federal Court, May 7, 2014. Watercolor, pastel, and porous point pen on tan paper.

#27 Separatists on Trial

The Black Liberation Army, in an attempt to build a utopian black republic, enlisted separatists who belonged to the radical Weather Underground to help rob a Brink’s armored car in Nyack, New York, on October 20, 1981. They murdered one guard and injured the other. During their preliminary hearing, on September 20, 1982, Judith Clark, Sekou Odinga, Kuwasi Balagoon, and David Gilbert shouted “Long live Palestine!” before they were escorted from the courtroom. Balagoon, Clark, and Gilbert, were tried in state court in nearby Goshen, New York, while Odinga was tried on federal charges in Manhattan. Balagoon died of AIDS a few years after the trial, Odinga was released in 2014, and Clark and Gilbert remain incarcerated.

By Marilyn Church. [Defendants in the Brink’s Robbery Case . . . Being Removed from the New City, New York, Courtroom by Police Officers], September 20, 1982. Colored pencil, graphite, and water-soluble crayon on gray paper.

#28 Subway Shooter Bernhard Goetz on Trial

Defendant Bernhard Goetz, who shot and injured four African American teenagers on a New York City subway in December 1984, sits during his trial before Judge Stephen Crane. Dubbed the “Subway Vigilante,” Goetz found sympathy with the jury who were receptive to his self-defense plea. They found him not guilty of attempted murder and assault. He spent eight months in prison for his unregistered handgun. One teenager who was paralyzed in the shooting, Darrell Cabey, later sued Goetz for damages and the court awarded him ten percent of Goetz’s income.

By Marilyn Church. Bernard [sic] Goetz Trial, 1985. Colored pencil, porous point pen, and water-soluble crayon on gray paper.

#29 Jury Troubled During Robert Chambers Trial

Nicknamed the “Preppy Killer,” even though his mother, a private-duty nurse worked extra shifts to send him to the best private schools, Robert Chambers choked Jennifer Levin to death in Central Park on August 26, 1986. During the course of deliberations, the jury returned to the courtroom several times to hear the court reporter re-read points of testimony to aid in their decision. On March 26, 1988, fearful of a mistrial, the prosecuting attorney, Linda Fairstein, called for a lesser charge, to which Chambers agreed. He committed enough infractions in prison to serve his entire fifteen-year sentence until his release in 2003. He is back in prison serving a nineteen-year sentence on an unrelated drug charge.

By Marilyn Church. The Robert Chambers trial jury listening to a court reporter reading the transcript of the trial, March 1988. Watercolor and porous point pen over graphite underdrawing on white paper.

#30 Charles Manson on the Stand

In the summer of 1969, Charles Manson brainwashed his followers, whom he called “the family,” into committing gruesome murders, including Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, as well as several others in the Los Angeles area. Courtroom illustrator Bill Robles captured Manson’s vacant stare in November 1970, several months after the defendant had carved an “x” into his forehead: People v. Charles Manson, 61 Cal. App. 3d 102 (1976). Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi later wrote Helter Skelter, a true crime account of Manson and “the family.”

By Bill Robles. [Charles Manson on the witness stand], November 1970. India ink and watercolor with scratching out on vellum paper mounted on board.

#31 Taiwanese Gang on Trial in New York

Taiwanese defendants were indicted on conspiracy charges for operating as part of the international gang, United Bamboo, for involvement in gambling, drug trafficking, and prostitution under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The group was also charged with the death of journalist Henry Liu. On August 4, 1986, Houston-based attorney Jan W. Fox questioned Detective Robert Chung, who had infiltrated the gang. Believing they were expanding their narcotics operation in several cities, the gang unwittingly recruited FBI agent Steven Wong and other law enforcement officers, including Chung, into their fold. Ultimately eight members of United Bamboo received sentences ranging from ten to twenty-five years from Judge Robert L. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the South District of New York: appeal at United States v. Chang An-Lo, aka White Wolf, 851 F.2d 547 (1988).

By Joseph Papin. Bamboo Union Trial, Federal Court, Judge Robert Carter Presiding, August 4, 1986. Porous point pen, blue ink, and opaque white on gray paper.

#32 “Deep Throat” Testifies at Mitchell Stans Trial

FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt was not considered the most important witness in the Watergate trial of John N. Mitchell and Maurice H. Stans, who were accused of accepting secret cash donations on behalf of President Richard Nixon’s re-election committee. As Felt answered questions posed by U.S. Attorney John R. Wing on March 15, 1974, courtroom illustrator Aggie Kenny captured his likeness, taking time to note his power tie. In 1974 Kenny, who has had a long career as a courtroom illustrator, won an Emmy for her trial coverage for CBS news, including the Mitchell Stans trial. Not until 2005 did Felt admit to his role as “Deep Throat,” the anonymous source of information about the Watergate cover-up to the Washington Post, and his role in revealing evidence that led to Nixon’s resignation.

By Aggie Kenny. Mark Felt, Atty John Wing, Mitchell Stans Trial, 1974. Pastel, watercolor, and graphite on blue paper.

#33 The Artist’s Tools

Aggie Kenny, while covering Westmoreland v. CBS, 596 F.Supp. 1170 (1984), in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, found time to draw her paint box in this unfinished sketch. Courtroom artists work in situ, creating fully realized art ready for television or news cameras. Although cameras are increasingly permitted into courtrooms, when they are prohibited, artists use the tools of their trade and are ready to capture an energized moment. While perched in a front row seat to human drama, they look for subtle details of body language—how a defendant gulps, a lawyer gestures, a family member looks on in sorrow—sometimes capturing history in the making.

By Aggie Kenny. Westmoreland Trial with Paint Box, 1984. Watercolor, ink, and graphite.

#34 Courtroom Artists

The news media—whether print, television, or digital—hires artists to cover trials where cameras are forbidden. During the trial of automobile manufacturer John Z. DeLorean for cocaine possession with the intent to sell, artist Elizabeth Williams drew a self-portrait with a row of her artist colleagues covering the trial (from left to right): Walt Stewart, Bill Robles, Bill Lignante, Howard Brodie, David Rose, and Elizabeth Williams. Howard Brodie is shown wearing his signature opera glasses affixed to his eyeglasses, which he donned to get a better view of the proceedings.

By Elizabeth Williams. Artists at the DeLoren [sic] Trial, August 16, 1984. Porous point pen.

For the full list head over to the Library of Congress’ online exhibition.

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